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Exploring the sustainable leadership of the top managers at Ermelo regional hospital.

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Sustainability as a megatrend is influencing the leadership of different organizations in the world, including hospitals to maintain and improve the quality of their services. Despite calls in the literature for guidance on sustaining interventions regarding sustainability in hospitals, there is a dearth of research on leading and implementing sustainability in a hospital setting. The primary objective of this qualitative study was to examine the practices of Sustainable Leadership adopted by the Top Management Team at Ermelo Regional Hospital in Gert Sibande District in South Africa. Purposive sampling was utilized to identify and select 8 members of the top management team who participated in face-to-face, semi-structured, in-depth, and audio-recorded interviews to collect data. Thematic analysis was used to identify recurring patterns which depict practices that enable or impede practices of Sustainable Leadership by members of the Top Management Team. The study’s limitation is that it only included a small sample which makes it not possible to generalize the findings. The key results of this exploratory study are that Ermelo Regional Hospital’s Top Management has got various practices of Sustainable Leadership that they use. These include staff development through training, encouraging leaders at all levels to be part of the organizational effort towards sustainability, flexible working and favourable labour relations which creates a sense of shared responsibility. However, succession planning was found to be influenced by nepotism and corruption while staff management is mostly crippled by the prevalence of autocratic leadership. The need for engaging the employees often through regular meetings to provide up-dates and share hospital performance were also emphasized as critical as they result in a work setting where effective communication becomes the norm and challenges are timeously addressed. The study concludes that while Ermelo Regional Hospital’s Top Management Team is trying in terms of skill development, the leadership style is less supportive of inclusive, sustainabilityrelated practices. Furthermore, the pillars of sustainability such as the environment and community are not given enough attention by the Ermelo Regional Hospital leaders, which adds challenges to practice effective Sustainable Leadership in a hospital setting. A few recommendations are provided as well as potential research areas.


Master’s Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.